THE JOY OF THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE
“It’s time to get the Christmas tree,” we children exclaimed each year when I was growing up on the farm. Then Father hitched up the horses to the sleigh, and we rode to the woodland behind the barn to find our tree. For me this was one of the most enjoyable activities of Christmas. This ritual was almost as much fun as putting up the tree and decorating it.
Traditions Change. Getting the Christmas tree evolves into a tradition in many families whether it’s from a tree farm, your own woods, a parking lot at the supermarket, or from a mail order catalog. Yes, you even can order your tree via a catalog or web site nowadays. Amazingly our grandchildren look forward to checking through the catalog with their grandfather for just the right tree. “Papa, it’s time to order the tree,” they exclaim toward the end of November. When it arrives, bundled in netting inside a long cardboard box, they help cut the wrapping and watch the tree unfurl. Then so they capture a bit of my childhood and my daughter’s (when we alternated between getting a tree from her uncle’s woods and a tree lot), we’ll go find a small tree to set upon our deck for the birds.
Trees of My Childhood
I’ll also tell them the story of getting the tree in my childhood and those rides over the snow to the woods in the sleigh Father used for hauling firewood from the forest. We four children and Mother piled onto the sleigh, sitting on empty grain bags, with the bear robe pulled over our legs. Shep ran beside the sleigh. Father called, “Geddy-up, geddy-up” to Dick and Nellie. We rode over the glistening snow and heard it crunch under the heavy wooden sleigh runners. Our voices sang out the carols we loved, and Mother told about the Christmas trees of her childhood. We hardly noticed that the air was frosty and our noses were nipped from the wind. When we finally had the tree home, Mother made hot cocoa. While we sipped it and munched on cookies, we talked about the decorating we’d do that evening.
After Father got a tractor, he used it for hauling the sleigh. Occasionally when the snow was too deep, we snowshoed all the way to the woods. No matter which method we used, the family activity of getting the tree from the back woodland was one of the high spots of the Christmas season…one I look back on with fondness and remember how close it seemed to bring the family.
The Christmas tree tradition constitutes a special time for families, one which creates memories for years to come.
Tree Trimming Goodies
Often during tree trimming time, families serve festive goodies which might include a special meal or simply hot cider, hot chocolate, spiced tea and cookies or a special cake.
RAISIN NUT KRUMBLES is a cousin’s favorite.
Boil together 1 cup water and 2 cups raisins for 5 minutes. Cool and stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda.
Cream together 1 cup shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar; add 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and stir in the raisin mixture; stir well.
Sift together 4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt. Add to other ingredients. Stir in 1 cup chopped walnuts.
Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 10 minutes.
(c)2002 Mary Emma Allen
Mary Emma Allen writes family stories and teaches workshops so others can record their memories, too. Her stories have been included in books such as Heartwarmers of Spirit, Finding the Joy in Alzheimer’s, Let Us Not Forget, and God Allows U-Turns – American Memories.